Interview with Oz Wright June 9-12, 2014
If your worldview were a religion, what classic cartoon character would best represent it as a figurehead, and why?
I suppose this isn’t the easiest question to answer, if I truly consider the implications of it. What is my worldview, anyway? And if it were a religion, what would that religion be like? I didn’t really seriously consider too many classic cartoon characters to be the figurehead for my worldview religion.
I decided to choose Wile E. Coyote as the figurehead, mascot, and spiritual leader of my personal worldview / religion. I believe Mr. Coyote fits the criterion of being a classic cartoon character, which could be subject to interpretation. I could not think of any other characters which would be able to personify the same qualities as Wile E. I wanted a figurehead who would lead by example, and although I strongly advise against attempting most of the stunts we have seen this particular critter try in his ever vigilant quest to capture the ever-elusive road runner. There are several admirable qualities about the Coyote that we can learn from. I realize that he is supposed to be a villain, but one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and I sympathize with the coyote. Although caught up in the modern world of science, technology, and consumerism, he has not lost the essence of who he is. He chases the road runner in his own mail-order, Rube Goldberg nightmare. After repeated failure he doesn’t get depressed and whine about his sad lot in life, no sir! He orders a pair of rocket-powered roller skates and a flame-thrower and goes back out to face his demons. It doesn’t matter how many cliffs he falls off of, or how many boulders fall on his head, he shall not be deterred. Use failure as a learning experience, as a stepping stone to achieving your goals. Some see him as the “bad guy”, because he wants to eat the road runner. I find no blame in this, as the coyote is a predator. He is hungry. He is engaged in a daily struggle to survive in a harsh world, and he is simply following his natural instinct as a coyote, in outlandish and hilarious ways. There is something very Zen-like in this pursuit.f He exists in the moment. What happened in the past does not matter at this particular time to the coyote. He is involved in existing, in being, in doing what comes naturally to him, in the moment. He is hungry, but no road runner can satiate this hunger, because the point of the journey is the journey. The coyote is hungry for the hunt, for the struggle, and I feel that this is an important lesson to learn. Wile E. Coyote also knows how to keep his mouth shut. He has the ability to speak, he did in the first shorts he appeared in. He has a fine speaking voice, talks like Frazier Crane or something. Either way, at some point he either took a vow of silence or ran out of stuff to say, and that’s cool with me. If the Coyote knows, he ain’t saying. He’s not going to narc you out, or call the police because you were playing the drums too loud. No time for that, he has a road runner to catch. I want someone to lead my religion who does things, rather than just says things. As long as you don’t follow him off the side of a cliff, it is hard to be misled by someone who doesn’t speak. He has no hidden agenda, he is up front about who he is. His motives are not obscure. Those are the main reasons that I would want Wile E. Coyote as my spiritual figurehead. There is much that can be learned from the way he acts, and what he does. The Coyote just IS, man.
What character or mascot from a children’s cereal would best represent the other side of your worldview, the darkness? Which breakfast marketing cartoon best represents the maligned aspects of an existence in which Wile E Coyote can be seen as a triumphant spiritual lesson?
Cap’n Crunch. That’s who I gotta go with. This wasn’t an easy pick. It was down to the wire on several cereal mascots. But the so called “Cap’n”, aka Horatio Magellan Crunch, is just a creepy old guy impersonating a naval officer. His primary purpose seems to be to go around making kids happy by giving them cereal. But I feel it is all much more nefarious. First of all, that shit really ain’t good for kids! I don’t think it has the most sugar, but it got enough, I know that much. So this weird old dude is lurking around your children, and “crunchatizing” the hell out of everything, which basically means giving out a higher risk of diabetes to kids. I’m pretty libertarian, so I don’t care what kinda dope you wanna push, just don’t be pushing it on the kids, man. And what the hell? You going to trust a man who dresses like that? I don’t have children, but I sure wouldn’t want a guy like that around any children. Promising happiness through sugar and consumerism. Cereal only buys temporary happiness. And you pay for it in the long run. Actually, you pay for it in the short term too- you seen the prices on that stuff? I can buy shwag cheaper than that. It’s a twisted marketing scheme, to try to use children as tools. I trust that guy about as much as I trust the government, and that is not much. And I can’t really think of any endearing qualities or positive attributes about the Cap’n. He seems pretty fake to me.
Good and evil are extremes of a rather wide swath of grey area. Most of us fit much closer to the middle. In literature the idea of an ‘everyman’ is widely used. What literary character do you think best fits the average experience, outcomes and temperament of the average human being?
I suppose Tom Joad from “The Grapes of Wrath”. Granted, his experience isn’t exactly like everyone, most of you haven’t been to prison, or been through the adverse circumstances that he has. But an “average” human experience, to me, seems like an unusual concept, as all humans individually experience things radically different from everyone else. But Tom Joad is a very human character. He can be good, bad, or somewhere in the grey area. Really he just wants a decent opportunity to live and survive, and he cares about his family. And he goes through hell trying to attain that. To me, the guy seems pretty “normal”, whatever that means. I really am not well versed in literature, I mostly read non-fiction, so I have a limited set of familiar characters from whom to choose. I still feel, however, that Tom Joad would accurately reflect my concept of “everyman”. He mostly just sees what he feels is right and does that. He is willing to break the law in the name of morality and justice, as he sees it. I think many people are. It’s truly hard to represent the average character for everyone. I guess he is average to me.
Thanks Oz! Some nutrition for cognition for our readers to nosh upon.